Rivers, Gulf of Finland and eco-friendly solutions in research of future environmentalists

October 21st  in  Peterhof near the Gulf of Finland coast the 17th scientific and practical conference “Environmental monitoring of rivers and Gulf of Finland coast” was organized by children’s and youth center “Peterhof” with Ecocentrum Ltd, Ecological and biological center “Krestovsky islan” and “Friends of the Baltic” NGO. In the conference also participated experts of research institutes and universities of Saint-Petersburg. 

Conference was held in the framework of the program “River watch” and “Barents-Baltic nature and people program” of Coalition Clean Baltic.

In Leningrad region there are a lot of valuable water bodies in good condition with high level of biodiversity. However in Leningrad region and Saint-Petersburg there are the examples of polluted water objects. Usually such objects situated near the settlements and have different causes of pollution. During the conference schoolchildren told about quality of water bodies in the region and possible solutions for improvement of water ecosystems ecological status. Schoolchildren participated in expeditions and conducted researches of water bodies in Saint-Petersburg and different districts of Leningrad region – in Kingisepp, Lodeinopolsky, Lomonosov, Luga districts, in Sosnovy Bor, on the Karelian Isthmus.

The reports were divided on five sections. The reports of the first section "Clean rivers - clean Gulf of Finland" were devoted to the study of chemical pollution of various rivers: Kristatelka in the "Sergievka" park, Black river in the "Sestroretsk bog" reserve, New river in the Kirov district of St. Petersburg, Smolenka river in the Vasileostrovsky district of St. Petersburg. Several reports described the research of the biological state of water bodies: the composition of zooplankton in Savozero Lake (Lodeinopolsky district), the composition of invertebrates in the Vuoksa Lake on the Karelian Isthmus. In their studies, the students were looking for the connection between anthropogenic impact and water quality, compared historical and modern data, and gave recommendations for improving of the ecological state of water bodies.

Reports on the analysis of changes in the chemical composition of water bodies in various districts of St. Petersburg were presented at the section "Environmental monitoring". Individual students and entire teams of schoolchildren studied various indicators of chemical and biological composition of the rivers Slavyanka, Karasta, Krasnenkaya, Murinsky brook, Colonisty pond. The children performed the analysis of such indicators as alkalinity, oxygen content (BOD5), content of individual salts, total hardness, content of nutrients, composition of zooplankton. One of the works was devoted to the analysis of the prevalence of parasitic disease of opisthorchiasis among carp fishes. All the studies were systematic, the authors compared the data, analyzed possible sources of water pollution and made conclusions about the degree of anthropogenic impact on water bodies. Most of the studies were very practical, results of the research were sent to the responsible state structures and the press.

The reports of the section "Actions for the future" demonstrated a wide range of interests of young researchers. There were reports on such topics as the determination of the quality of gasoline at the gasoline stations in Lomonosov on the South coast of the Gulf of Finland, museum technologies for environmental education, the project of recreational areas on the Gulf of Finland coast in Martyshkino, the “Clean Coast - Healthy Future” project. The reports of sections "Preserve the natural and cultural heritage" and "Environment and human health" were also diverse, the children studied the influence of various environmental factors on natural ecosystems, natural and anthropogenic objects on the South coast of the Gulf of Finland and the Smolenka River in an ecological context.

After working in the sections, the teachers gathered at the round table "Methods for research of water bodies - nitrates, climate, litter and microplastics. International projects for schoolchildren ", organized by Ecocenter Ltd with the participation of the "Friends of the Baltic" NGO. Teachers received tools and methodological materials for research, learned about the possibilities of participating in research programs on the content of nitrates in wells and natural reservoirs, in the study of flooding in river basins, in observations of litter on the coast. Teachers also received information and a package of materials for the competition "School project for Application of Researches and Energy", in which both schoolchildren and teachers can participate with projects on energy saving, energy efficiency, and the development of the school climate plan.

During the teacher’s round table activity an environmental quest competition for schoolchildren was organized. Children split into teams, got routing sheets, and went to look for the letters hidden behind various trees on the street. It was necessary to find 8 letters and make up a word - an ecological term. All teams actively carried out the assignment, and the team "Swan" won. It is symbolic that all the teams received the names of various birds - inhabitants of the South shore of the Gulf of Finland. For example, with seasonal migration of birds thousands of swans stop for rest and feeding on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. And from the health of the rivers that fill the bay, the diversity of invertebrate inhabitants of the bay, fish, and fodder conditions for swans and other birds also depends.

At the end of the conference, diplomas were given to participants and laureates of the conference. Based on the results of the conference, a collection of abstracts was published. Participation in the conference served as a good debut for beginners and contributed to the further development of more experienced young researchers and environmentalists in the region of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.